Marielle Franco

Horrible news out of Rio:

Protests were held across Brazil after a popular Rio city councillor and her driver were shot dead by two men in what appears to have been a targeted assassination.

Marielle Franco was a groundbreaking politician who had become a voice for disadvantaged people in the teeming favelas that are home to almost one-quarter of Rio de Janeiro’s population, where grinding poverty, police brutality and shootouts with drug gangs are routine.

Marielle Franco

Midia Ninja/

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemned the killings, while friends, colleagues and politicians paid tribute to Franco.

On Thursday afternoon crowds gathered outside Rio de Janeiro’s council chamber chanting “not one step backwards” ahead of a ceremony in honour of Franco inside. Many wept as her coffin was carried inside.

The spontaneous demonstration brought together union members, feminists, leftists and residents of the city’s poorer communities.

Camila Pontes, 30, a communications officer, sheltered from the hot sun under an umbrella. “I feel lost, without hope,” she said. “It is a very tough blow for anyone who fights for justice, for freedom, for equality.”

Franco was a gay black woman who defied the odds of Rio politics to win the fifth-highest vote count among council members when she was elected in 2016. She was an expert on police violence and had recently accused officers of being overly aggressive in searching residents of gang-controlled shantytowns. A member of a leftist party, Franco was also known for her social work in slums. She was in her first term in office.

God it’s just awful.

Read on.

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